Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Two years at Forgotten Pond Farm

This weekend marks the second anniversary that we’ve lived on our little farm! I think I can venture to say that, over the last winter, we’ve really settled into this new lifestyle. Watching the increasingly familiar signs of Spring emerging on the property truly makes me feel home. While the sense of unknown and feeling of discovery as each season progressed were very exciting during our first year on the property, it is so comfortable to be able to anticipate and feel in sync with the seasonal changes now that we’ve experienced our second year.

This winter was, as you might expect, a busy one for projects around the property seeing as we were so home-bound. I feel ever so fortunate that our winter of Covid isolation was this winter rather than the prior one – toddlerhood is so much more enjoyable for Matt and I than muddling through life with a newborn!

Knowing our property that much better allowed us to settle into routines and projects much more than the previous winter when the scale of every project and problem on a homestead felt a little too large and scary for us to tackle.

Whenever allowed, both sets of Noah’s grandparents have been included in our bubble, and, as always, they have been incredibly supportive and eager to take on childcare or projects around the property. We are so very lucky to have such a supportive family and, of course, when they were forced to socially distance from us at various points throughout the year, their support, love and companionship was sorely missed by all three of us.

My parents, who share ownership of the property with us and intend to live here once my mom has retired, have been full steam ahead with land clearing and milling. They are building a large workshop and will eventually move into the existing house (where we currently live) once we have built our new one. This winter we had arborists come to clear both building sites and my parents have since bought a mill to turn all of the fallen trees into beautiful lumber. They are so thrilled with this enormous project!

Our impending house build project has really begun to feel possible now that the land is cleared! You can see above that our build site will have lovely south exposure and a gorgeous view of my garden! We have spent quite a few sunny winter afternoons having campfires at the site and roasting hotdogs while we sit on stumps imagining them to be our future living room couch.

The site where my parents are building their shop is now cleared, has a gravel road, and is home to a temporary shop that they set up in a rented sea container. I can’t wait to see their build come together – it will hopefully be started this summer if their plans proceed smoothly. My dad plans to build a second story overtop the workshop which I will rent from him as the Thread Theory studio…this new studio space can’t come soon enough for us as we are bursting at the seams with inventory here in our house!

As you can see from the photo selection so far, chainsaws and tractors have figured hugely in our winter activities…I can’t say I ever imagined my life would revolve around these pieces of heavy machinery but, thanks to my dad’s enthusiasm for them, they have certainly shaped our property. The wood chipper, in particular, suits my plans perfectly as I’m adding to the fertility of the land by having my parents chip all the branches taken from the logs as they mill their lumber. The chips are then piled high around perennials and in the orchard to protect the tree roots from the chickens and retain moisture in the summer. The effects were very noticeable last summer and I can’t wait to see how lush everything becomes this year! My dad just added a backhoe attachment to his collection and I have already come up with a million landscaping plans for which it will be essential.

The first big project is digging a french drain across our ‘homestead area’ (the fenced portion of our land where I am developing the orchard, garden and livestock paddock) that leads from a seasonal rain catchment pond. For two winters now we’ve waded through a lake of slush and mud all winter long to get to our chicken coop. The seasonal pond paired with the french drain will hopefully allow the water to seep into our garden area and then excess can be sent down to the meadow and swamp at the lowest edge of our property.

While my parents have been occupied with power tools, I have frequently been in the kitchen preserving and cooking over the course of last Fall and Winter. Noah was a great help during the apple harvest and has since consumed more than his share of dehydrated apple rings, apple juice and apple sauce.

I was really thrilled with how our preserved homegrown veggies saw us through the winter. I didn’t get too crazy about eating only from the larder seeing as our local grocery shop and a nearby farm continue to sell a nice selection of local veggies all year round…but all the same, most of our meals feature at least once thing I grew and preserved! Our potatoes, garlic, frozen kale, collards, and swiss chard are still in plentiful supply.

Over the winter, as a creative pursuit and a way to feel connected to our new community, I’ve been developing a pizza dough recipe that I hope to sell at the farmer’s market this spring. I haven’t heard back from the market adjudicators yet but I sure hope they will allow me to rent a table! Here is my very rough and tumble website so far. Sonia (my sister-in-law and the talented graphic designer who creates our Thread Theory packaging) is working on a logo and packaging design for my pizza dough but, in the interim, the website gives you a bit of a temporary feel for what I will be selling. We’ve even bought an old van (named Jenny) that would allow me to bring a freezer of dough to the market! I might snazzy her up with a homemade paint job if I work up the courage.

Aside from all these activities, we’ve been building a fence for livestock (just chickens right now but we will hopefully add goats to this area one day), enjoying the wildlife around our property (loads of owls and frogs this Fall and Winter compared to the first winter we were here), setting up a brew-station for Matt (he likes to brew beer), painting parts of the house, and have just generally been having fun playing and exploring with Noah.

I am feeling so energized now that Spring is here! I can’t wait for the growing season! Thanks for following along on this adventure with us.


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Here’s who to thank for a VERY busy pattern release schedule this year!

Please help me to welcome Adrianna to our team! Adrianna has recently joined us remotely to help me with pattern development and social media (read: to pick up my slack whenever I focus on parenting more than working!). She does an amazing job writing instructions and her illustrations blow mine right out of the water! I anticipate that our pattern release schedule will be greatly increased this year and I’m so excited about this!

You’ll be seeing Adrianna around Instagram and Facebook from now on as she takes over the running of those two accounts. Please make her feel welcome and say hi!

I’m really excited to have Adrianna working with me as it is the first time I’ve had a colleague who has all the same skill sets that I do. I’ve already been enjoying the increased sense of camaraderie as we trouble shoot instruction wording, discuss the details of pattern labelling, and the merits of various fabric choices. I feel very fortunate that someone with just the skills I needed had the courage and initiative to get in touch and offer her services. Thank you for sending that first email, Adrianna!

Here are a few questions I asked Adrianna recently in hopes of getting to know her better:

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional sewing-related background?


I have a BFA from the Academy of Art University in Fashion Design specializing in Menswear. Since graduating I have worked for a variety of clothing companies, from corporate mass production brands to small made to order clothing brands, specialized tailoring boutiques, and most importantly indie sewing pattern companies. I love the community that is involved with home sewing, and it is my passion to teach and share my skills with others and provide encouragement for people to learn how to create their own clothing and accessories.

Where do you live and what do you like about your community?


I live in Portland, OR, USA. The sewing (and craft community in general) is huge here which is what I love the most about this city. The street that I live on has a small fabric store, knitting shop, AND craft supply store, amongst several coffee shops, all which I can walk to in about 10 minutes. Portland is also big on community support and activism which is important to me. Though the media has portrayed Portland as…. interesting to say the least, I will attest that in my experience all the activism I have experienced and participated in has been very positive (such things the news likes to leave out as it isn’t as dramatic). I have witnessed many friends and other sewing community members come together to share their skills and make supplies – such as masks, quilts, clothing, and mending kits –  and meals to help one another, especially over the past year. 

How did your interest in sewing first develop?

Most of my family is relatively artsy in some way, so there was always access to art and craft supplies at my home. My grandmother, Mom, and Aunts had all contributed in teaching me how to sew, knit, and crochet. Sewing took the lead in my teens after I started making my own clothes and fell in love with the empowerment that gave me. I was, and still am to this day, a bit shy so I find it easiest to express my creativity through making clothing and accessories. In high school I started taking classes at a small boutique in Milwaukee, WI, USA, where I am from, and it inspired me to keep on going with it so I decided that was what I was going to study for a career. 


What aspects of designing and sewing menswear excite and interest you?


What I love most about sewing is how technical it can be. I have always been more of a technical person, so in regards to making clothes – fit, details, and construction techniques have always been what interests me the most. Traditional menswear tends to have more of a focus on these things which is why I gravitated towards it in college. From my menswear degree I have landed some very fun and rewarding jobs!

What project is on your sewing table right now?


I am currently in the middle of reworking some garments in my wardrobe! One of the things I have helped my community with over the past year is making something new out of what you have, whether that is mending an old garment that would have been thrown away, or taking apart a garment you have and making something new out of it. I recently made some Qualicum Bags out of repurposed denim jeans I had that didn’t fit any more and also turned one pair of jeans into a skirt. I am in the process of taking apart some dresses that I had bought because I liked the fabric, but the style didn’t really fit me, so I’m hoping to make some breezy tank tops or a pair of beach shorts out of them. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your sewing space?


I have had some very cramped and odd sewing set ups in the past so I am extremely happy to say that the house I live in currently has a converted, insulated, and spacious outdoor shed that my partner and I share for our artistic endeavors. Half the studio is set up for my sewing and the other half is filled with rock n roll instruments. I wish I had more helpful tips for organization, but it is something I feel like I am working on everyday. Most of my smaller tools I keep in a variety of mason jars so I can easily see them, and my fabric I have stored in vacuum sealed bags in many rope bowls, on a built in shelf unit. I have all of my patterns in labeled binders, but they currently are not necessarily in the correct binders. Like I said, something I work on daily! I have a senior cat named Oliver that I rescued almost 3 years ago that keeps me company some of the time, mostly when I am doing computer work. I have had to keep him away from the studio when I’m sewing as he is a typical cat that likes to plop on whatever fabric or paper is out. As far as tools, I have become dependent on my wacom tablet for all computer work. I also have a large standing desk that I use for sewing and computer work which has been a godsend for my back and shoulders!

What sewing-related patterns, projects or supplies are piquing your interest right now?

Due to being home all the time, I have found my hobby sewing has been focused on interior projects. I have made some throw blankets and pillows, new curtains for the studio, I have been experimenting with braided rugs and am in the process of collecting enough scraps to make the Closet Core pouf. I have also been building up the courage to re-upholster a loveseat that my dear cat scratched up.

Thanks for the detailed answers, Adrianna! It’s been lovely to get to know you better. Welcome to our team!


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And now it is Summer at the farm!

Wow, Summer is certainly our busy season this year! Since the pandemic began Thread Theory has become exceptionally active so we are actually thankful that Matt’s usual work is at a stand still so he can join in to pack orders, do runs to the post office, and keep up on emails. I have been helping with this and also chugging along at pattern development. One pattern is completely done and just waiting for our graphic designer (my sister-in-law) to come back from maternity leave and add in our test sewer feedback. The next pattern is well under way! I’ve got most of the instructions roughed in. This has been more time consuming than our past couple of patterns because it is a very involved design full of all manner of construction details – topstitching, a full lining, zippered pockets, elasticated cuffs and much more. Perhaps you can guess what it is?

Outside of Thread Theory, homestead life is, predictably, at it’s most busy time too! We’ve finally settled on a name for our property – Forgotten Pond Farm – after setting out to put a small tadpole pond in our fern garden only to discover a huge concrete-lined pond is already there! It had simply been filled in with stones and dirt at some point. We have been excitedly digging and cleaning it out. After one last chance to dry in the sun we will build some rock ledges for plants and then fill it with water! I can’t wait for the frogs to take up residence!

Our garden is pumping out zucchini, kale, collards, garlic, potatoes, beans and more. The only disappointing harvest has been tomatoes so far as they have a very dismal case of late blight. We have built a bit of a cold room off our kitchen (it used to be an unused entry way that we’ve closed in and put up shelving and added ventilation). I can’t believe how quickly it is filling up with food! So far most of my preserving efforts have involved dehydrating, curing, and freezing but I plan to launch into canning once blackberries and tomatoes are fully ripe in a week or two.

You may have noticed I have been silent on social media. I must say, I don’t miss it! Personally, I was finding Instagram, in particular, to be a huge drain on my positivity and confidence. Professionally, Matt and I felt we had to clear the airwaves to leave these platforms free for those who need them for social change rather than marketing right now. We purposely didn’t make any statement on the pandemic or on racial equality since we have the perspective that any such statement would not be truly genuine – as a business, any post we make is a form of marketing (whether we intend it to be or not) and thus we don’t feel an important social statement would come across as genuine on the social media account of any business. Personally, I am more than happy to talk with you about the subject! Our business will not though.

Now that we’ve stepped off of social media and given ourselves some time to digest how we feel about using such platforms as a business, I am feeling quite happy with my decision. I feel like I can connect with other sewists most genuinely by blogging and reading blogs so I am reverting to that format of engaging with the sewing community online regardless on the impact this might have on Thread Theory financially.

Please feel free to continue using various Thread Theory hashtags if they are helpful to you… but please never feel obligated to do so when you post about our patterns! If you prefer to keep your sewing projects private or shared just amidst your friends and family, there is absolutely no obligation on your part to promote our patterns using hashtags. We have always been a little mystified by the sense of obligation I have read many people express when they sew with indie sewing patterns. Despite being a small family run company and despite the fact that we love how a community of menswear sewists has developed through use of our patterns (I can’t believe how active the Facebook group is) I have never felt comfortable with the role many of our customers set themselves. You have purchased our patterns and we thank you for that! You do not need to spend your precious creative time reviewing them, sharing them and otherwise marketing them unless this is also something that enriches your life!

All that being said, the Thread Theory social media accounts will remain active for now as I have committed many years of work on them and I know many of you enjoy engaging with them. I’ll just refrain from engaging myself and may make a more permanent decision later. For now it seems to me there is no reason to actually close them.

Now, I’ll get back to my sewing machine and pattern development (and hanging out with little Noah!), as that is really why you all check in with Thread Theory, after all… you are waiting for more sewing patterns so you can get busy at your machines too! Happy sewing to all of you and thank you ever so much for reading about my life and my current perspective on social media. Please don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comments as I know many of you differ in how you expect small businesses to act on social media. I look forward to hearing the diverse array of perspectives.


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Spring at the Farm

It’s time for a seasonal update about life at our homestead. This spring has been an unusual one, to say the least, but since it is only just our second Spring on the property (we moved here March 2019) life hasn’t been that abnormal for us as it has been for most…we have very little with which to compare this confinement at home! Matt is out of work right now as one would expect so we are trying to make the most of his extra time by ticking off as many projects as possible.

The vegetable garden and irrigation system have been our main focus. This last winter the garden was only a patch of layered cardboard, leaves, compost and straw. The chickens enjoyed many months of scratching though the debris for bugs until we were ready to plant.

I am attempting to use the No Dig method (by Charles Dowding) which I have used successfully on past gardens. This year though, we did not have a thick enough layer of quality compost to recreate past year’s flourishing spring gardens. The garden area was a market vegetable plot about 7 years ago but since then had been converted to pasture for small livestock. The soil is deep and dark but infested with wireworms which ate basically every seed I put in the soil and most of my early spring starts. Once the soil warmed up the wireworms moved deeper so my main season veggies seem to be chugging along nicely. According to some colleagues at the farm where I volunteer, the wireworm problem should become less over time since they thrive on grasses. I’ve hedged my bets and put cut up potato pieces in the garden as traps (I take out the pieces every few days and feed the wireworms to our chickens) and I’ve also applied beneficial nematodes. Between volunteering at the farm down the street and battling with this new-to-me pest, I have learned a lot about growing vegetables this spring!

While I’ve been battling wireworms Matt has been puzzling through the design and installation of a rainwater collection system. It has been a big cost in time and money but is necessary on this property because our well is not equipped to irrigate more than a single household. The larger our garden area becomes the more pressure this will put on our well and pump so we need to supplement with rainwater. We now have a 3000g tank installed by the shop and gravity fed drip tape spread throughout the orchard, berry hedgerow and vegetable garden. We hit a bit of a snag when the timer that Matt purchased would not work with the low pressure system he designed but we’ve set the idea of an automatic system aside for this year at least and are now just happy that the gravity fed system works with the turn of a few nozzles! The last piece to the puzzle will be extending the irrigation from Matt’s shop gutters (new last week) to the tank using PVC. That will happen in the next week or two…just in time for the summer dry spell. I hope there will be enough rain to fill the tank but I don’t really expect that to be the case! We will probably have to truck in one fill of water at least.

Aside from these large projects, we’ve been enjoying lots of smaller homestead tasks. This Spring has really marked the beginning of a new era on this property. Since moving in we have mostly been removing things: Junk, smelly flooring, accumulated wood scraps, overgrown brambles, overgrown trees, decrepit buildings. Around May we began to notice that some of our projects were actually centered around adding something new to the property…and then as May came to a close they transitioned one step further to include some projects that aesthetically as well as functionally improved the property. How exciting! Here are a few photos of the smaller tasks that we’ve tackled:

My parents (and their tractor) helped us to build this play area for Noah over the winter. This spring Matt planted the back levelled portion with clover seed and has been babying it with watering and mowing. I don’t have a current picture of the lush clover but you’ll have to believe me when I say it is the perfect spot for a picnic table!

The gorgeous fernery/grotto next to our sun room just keeps getting prettier! We’ve added a wood chip path through it and cleared out a lot of the overgrown ground cover so that I could add to the diversity of the garden by adding a variety of new ground covers. My grandparents just gave me a tadpole pond form for my birthday. I’m really looking forward to installing it in the middle of this garden. I think Noah will be the perfect age to investigate the tadpoles as they turn into frogs next spring!

Much of my May gardening time was spent watering by hand since the irrigation wasn’t ready yet. It was such a hot May and a very rainy and cool June.

Matt built a Lil’ Chick Cottage (as we’ve named it) using the only remaining decrepit building on the farm – a very sturdily built dog house. Noah enjoyed ‘helping’.

My dad built me these beautiful herb planters for our back patio and my mom filled them with soil and herbs. I’m just thrilled with them! They make the steps quite a bit safer feeling and are very convenient to access from the kitchen.

I’ve begun to paint the inside of the house at long last – the kitchen is now done and is much brighter (it used to be dark green and this picture is after one coat of slightly cream coloured white). I’ll continue the big job room by room and will tackle the easiest ones first as they can mostly be done in evenings and nap times. For the main living areas we will need to bring in painting or childcare help I think!

Matt’s dad built us a really handy TV bench to contain some of Noah’s toys. These sorts of projects really make our home feel ours…just ignore that dark burgundy wall (complete with many, many scratches and outright holes) for now, I can just picture how nice and fresh it will look white!

Lastly, we have some adorable Spring chicks in residence. We bought six chicks in hopes that most would be female since the vast majority of the chicks we raised last year turned out to be roosters. It turns out, we have three roosters this time. So in total, we will have a flock of five laying hens after purchasing fourteen chicks in two years. I don’t think those are especially good results but we are happy to have met and supported local farmers by purchasing chicks through them rather than buying sexed chicks from a farm and feed at least.

To close, a small tidbit of Thread Theory news: We just completed a photo shoot and our latest pattern is with testers right now! If all goes well I plan to launch it in August since it would make a nice Fall sewing project. If there are some more involved changes due to feedback we will, of course, adjust the timeline. Fingers crossed!


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Our Pattern Collections and Names

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I don’t think I’ve ever really fully explained how we name our patterns or organize them into collections. Since I’ve received many queries about this over the years, it is about time!

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We began by developing four collection names as a framework to design our patterns within. The collections are Parkland Casual Wear, Alpine Activewear, Cityscape Urban Menswear, and Meadow Women’s Wear. You can see our very first four patterns marked out on the map above. They range in location from central to southern Vancouver Island. Let’s delve into these collections and the place names we’ve selected in more detail:

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-6

Garments within the Parkland Collection must be suitable to wear while strolling or picnicing at one of Vancouver Island’s many beaches or parks. Alpine Collection garments, on the other hand, must be suitable for more strenuous hiking or climbing throughout the mountain ranges on our island. Cityscape garments are great for either casual or business use in Victoria (Vancouver Island’s largest city which is still very small as far as cities go). Meadow Women’s Wear is simply comfortable women’s garments, there aren’t any restrictions on these designs as they have always been special releases for Thread Theory’s birthday and are simply garments I would like to wear!

Parkland Menswear Pattern Collection-4

Within the Parkland Collection you will find the Newcastle Cardigan, named after Newcastle Island near central Vancouver Island. This island was a great place to visit when we were kids. Both our families boated recreationally (and we probably came across each other at anchorages but, knowing my shy sister and I, we wouldn’t have joined in with whatever antics Matt and his brother were getting up to!

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The Jedediah Pants were named after the island Matt and I visited (also near central Vancouver Island) by borrowed sailing boat when we were engaged. We climbed to the top of the highest mountain on the island where Matt proposed by writing a note to me and placing it in the stone cairn!

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The Strathcona Henley is named after Strathcona Park which is an enourmous conservation area extending from mid to north Vancouver Island. Within this park are many spectacular hike in camping locations but also some lovely day walks, including my favourite, Paradise Meadows. This walk is a circle route with many boardwalks, alpine lakes, wildflowers and whiskey jack birds.

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The Goldstream Peacoat was named after Goldstream Park in Victoria. This park is right near the main highway but upon taking several steps from the parking lot you are immersed in anothe world of ancient forests and babbling streams. When we lived in Victoria we loved to camp here. The Goldstream design would be a nice choice to wear here when taking a day trip from the city.

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The Sayward Raglan was named after the northern Vancouver Island town of Sayward. Matt and I were considering buying a property in this tiny town around the time that we developed this pattern. While not named after a park, it still felt like a fitting name because the main reason we were drawn to this town is that it felt like the entire town and surrounding mountains were one big park! We found gorgeous free camping beside a stream while we visited, watched some great baseball games, and climbed the local mountain.

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The Eastwood Pajamas were named after the woods that we frequented daily when we lived in the Comox Valley. We joked that the woods were such an extension of our home we would almost be comfortable wearing pajamas there. It was the best place for blackberry picking, was right near our foster children’s school, and was Luki’s place to socialize with other dogs. We’ve found some great walks close to our new home but we still miss Eastwood!

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The Quadra Jeans are named after Quadra Island, another location that Matt and I tried to buy a property (our offer was turned down). It is a gorgeous little island just off of Campbell River and features some of our favourite cruising grounds – sandy beaches, a hut filled with driftwood art left by boaters from decades past, excellent crabbing and prawning, and some lovely walks.

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That brings us to the Alpine Collection now! The first pattern in this collection was the Comox Trunks. They were designed with hiking in mind – they are close fitting and seamed in such a way to avoid chaffing. They were named after my hometown, Comox, because we returned to this community after attending school in the city while we were in the midst of designing this pattern. The Comox Valley is nestled between the mountains and the ocean so it is always only a short drive to reach a hilly hike.

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Next in the collection was the Arrowsmith Undershirt (our free pattern), paired with the Comox Trunks you have a nice base layer to wear while on adventures. Arrowsmith is the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island and features a challenging hike.

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The Jutland Pants were named after one of the mountains just outside of the Comox Valley. It can be reached by avid hikers with Paradise Meadows as the starting point for the hike. I suspect shoulder season hikers would appreciate the lined Jutland Pants!

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The Finlayson Sweater was named after Mount Finlayson which is right near Goldstream Park. We thought it a fitting name because, despite being part of the Alpine Collection, it can be made to be more of a casual or dressy garment depending on fabric choice (sew it in merino for hiking, in terrycloth for cosy loungewear, or in a textured sweater knit for a smart and dressy sweater). A mountain close to the city sort of bridges that gap between wilderness and civilization!

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The Fulford Jeans were named after Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island (one of the Gulf Islands near southern Vancouver Island. This was yet another area that we tried to buy a homestean unsuccessfully! It is a hilly region for such a small island. The Fulfords would have been excellent jeans to wear while working to clear and build on the land we tried to buy!

Our upcoming pattern will also be part of the Alpine Collection. It is called Carmanah which is named after the next hike I would like to do once Noah is ready for this sort of adventure. The Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is on the west coast of Vancouver Island (all our other garments have been named after locations on the east coast which is where we live). The park has a beautiful hike through truly ancient Sitka spruce trees.

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Moving on to the Cityscape Collection, which is currently our smallest collection. You may notice that our daily lives don’t involve a lot of formal wear or time spent in cities anymore! All the same, everyone needs a smart outfit or three in their closet to wear to special occasions. Plus, sewists have the flexibility to vary the aesthetic of a design based on the fabric they choose! Matt still wears his flannel Fairfield Button-up every week at least once through the entire year (he insists it is actually quite cool and comfortable as a light layer to put on in the morning and evening throughout the summer!). The Fairfield Button-up was named for the street that we lived on while I attended my Fashion Design program in Victoria.

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The Belvedere Waistcoat was named for the apartment building near ours (while in Victoria) with, what I thought to be, the classiest of names!

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The Qualicum Bag, the final garment in this collection (though I am sure it will continue to grow over the years) was named after the town in which Matt’s parents live. The Qualicum Bag can pack a lot – perfect for our weekend trips to visit!

Camas Blouse

The final collection, The Meadow, features the Camas Blouse and Lazo Trousers. I named these garments after my favourite meadow locations on Vancouver Island. Camas refers to the Camas flower meadows found in the Garry Oak ecosystem of southern Vancouver Island. We often walked through the famous Camas meadow at Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park which was just across the road from our apartment building.

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Cape Lazo is in the Comox Valley and consists of a sandy and windy spit with a beautiful beach and some stunning seaside homes. Many of these properties  feature resiliant wild grasses that turn golden in the summer and sway in the wind. I’ve always enjoyed driving along the peninsula road during summer windstorms to watch the waves and the wind in the grass.

And there you have it, the story behind our garment and collection names! I’ve also added collection buttons on our shop home page so it is easier to view our patterns by collection. Scroll to the bottom to see!

Have you visited Vancouver Island? What landmark would you want to remember by naming one of our patterns?

 

 


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Embracing Change

I shed a few grateful tears the other day when I first opened up the early results of our survey. Hundreds of you have not only taken the time to answer the basic survey questions, but you’ve also written beautiful paragraphs of encouragement and support. When I made up the survey I was only hoping to receive some concrete opinions and perhaps a little enthusiasm to help launch me into the initial design phase for our next batch of patterns. Instead, I received that plus so much more. Even though I thought I was keeping my insecurities and concerns to myself, so many of you are perpceptive or have perhaps walked a similar path before. You took a big nebulous cloud of unexamined fears and anxiety, named it all for me and then showed me how to move on. Thank you!

Here are a few of the comments that I am just so grateful for:

“I really value the work you’re doing. I know balancing work & family needs is a real challenge. The challenges don’t go away – they change as everyone gets older – kids, parents, & you. But so do the rewards ( or maybe out standards drop 😉). Hang in there. Trust your gut. You got this.”

“Thank you for some lovely patterns, superb instructions, helpful sew alongs and tutorials. I sew these patterns again and again because they produce well fitting, beautiful and hardwearing garments. I love the details and finishes, the henley placket and the cuffs of the Strathcona, the hood lining of the Finlayson being smaller than the hood which gives a lovely fold back finish. The welt pockets excellent instructions of the Belvedere waistcoat and all the tips in the online sew along.”

“Keep up the amazing work! As a male sewist there isn’t much out there that I get to make for myself, and finding your site years ago was what made me brave enough to try making clothes for myself.”

“I also live in BC and have a small acreage, so I really love the updates to your blog about your property, even though they have nothing to with sewing!”

 

Some of you were concerned that I plan to depart from menswear design entirely. Don’t worry, menswear patterns will remain the main focus for Thread Theory. I only seek to refresh and envigorate myself by approaching things from a slightly different direction for a while.

The survey results are still streaming in steadily and I have a lot of thinking yet to do so it is far too early to say what my plans will be for this shift of focus. In the meantime, your outpouring of understanding has made me feel so much more connected to the sewing community and, as a result, I am newly eager to get designing!

 

Another unanticipated outcome from the survey results is that I am now clear that many of you have been enjoying my homesteading blog posts. In the “Any other comments?” answer box at the end of the survey, person after person wrote that they have been enjoying these posts and hope I keep writing them. Wow! I had considered stopping them as I suspected they were tolerated at best…I’m glad to hear that isn’t the case! I really enjoy writing about our new lifestyle and will continue with much more confidence now. With that in mind, here is a little peek into our long post-Christmas winter days:

While driving Noah into the little town nearest us earlier this week (we attend an action packed toddler group at the local community hall) he fell asleep when only minutes away from home. He’s usually only napping in the afternoon now but has had at least four teeth coming in over the last few days so that wore him out enough to fall asleep as early as 9:30 in the morning. Rather than wake him I decided to just keep on driving and head 45 minutes south to a big menswear retail chain to do a little RTW research for Thread Theory. Once Noah woke we headed into the shop and he pushed a buggy (he just won’t sit in it lately!) while I looked at pocket details, fabric choices, fit differences between brands and all of the other details that serve as inspiration when I am beginning new designs. I plan to draw up some techical illustrations and start a mood board while Matt and Noah are at their swimming lesson this Sunday. After that, I’ll mull over the construction process in an attempt to create a garment that is a pleasure to sew. This will invariably lead to a number of design changes after which the pattern can be drafted…and onwards the process will go!

These late winter days are an excellent time of year to dig into design work as, although my seed starting station is partially set up, only peppers and celeriac have been sown and the rest must wait until closer to the last frost date. Outdoors the landscape has been covered with frost, snow, or, for the majority of the time, puddles and mud. We have been working at pruning (Matt has taken on the dwarf fruit trees while I’m working on ornamentals and blueberries) but the soil itself is still far too wet to do all that much. This is changing quickly though! This weekend I’m going to do some weeding during nap time as I’ve noticed the weeds have suddenly taken off in the herb bed. That way I’ll be ready to order a big load of mulch to unload over the freshly tidied beds when my parents visit next weekend.

In the meantime though, the evenings are still dark and long so I can work away indoors on pattern development once Noah has been put to bed (ahem…on the nights I have energy to work, that is!).

Another wintery sort of project we have taken on of late is a general shift and tidy of some of our living spaces. We spent two evenings last week as ‘date’ nights. We headed out to our workshop to put on music and tidy and hang tools and create storage systems. After that little bit of effort the workshop is so much more useable! Our house has received the same treatment. We moved all of my sewing equipment and office station to the main floor of our house. Now we have lived here for almost a year (as of this coming March), our daily rythym has taken shape and it has become clear that our lovely second floor studio with windows overlooking the property and a balcony to off one side will just not be used! The nursury is directly across from this room…and I only work when Noah is sleeping! Sewing, typing, and creaking floor boards interfere too much with his sleep.

Thus, the studio will now become our inventory and shipping station. This is just as well because we have another restock of 3000 tissue patterns arriving next week! Matt and his dad are spending the weekend building some sturdy wooden shelving to hold the inventory. Up until this point, our tissue pattern boxes have been piled high in our second floor landing which I would really like to clear up to make into a craft and play room.

My sewing station is now in our sunroom (the very furthest possible point from Noah’s room) and it is a great little corner in which to work. It needs some major work setting it up but it is functional for now and I love that I don’t feel too secluded but it isn’t in anyone’s way (though I have to pack my things up each time I sew so that the power cord and ironing board are not a hazard). I like that Noah can see my work station constantly so he will grow up very aware of what I do for work. Earlier this week we sewed together for the very first time. He plays with my sewing machine knobs quite regularly but, until now, I had never plugged the machine in to show him how it works. He sat in my lap with wide eyes while I sewed him a big pillow for his room. He had a blast stuffing it with me and ran to the sewing machine the next day when I mentioned I had more pillows that I wanted to make.

Outside of studio projects, we have a number of other developments going on this winter on our homestead. Since my Fall post, Matt and my dad have felled, limbed, bucked, and split all of the trees I had intended to hire an arborist to deal with! My dad bought a tractor and has made a new road through one section of the property.

The two of them also re-roofed the chicken coop to combat a frustrating rat problem due to the poor design of the original roof. With the rats long gone, our chickens are happy and have been laying eggs daily all winter long! Our two roosters get along famously and I’ve never once seen them fight. We definitely need at least two more hens though (more likely, three or four!) as Noah eats a lot of eggs and our rooster to hen ratio is still way off.

As winter draws to a close we will be tackling a large rainwater collection and irrigation project. I only had a small veggie garden last year and even then our well was more or less dry mid-summner. I have big garden plans for this summer so a huge rainwater cistern will be essential to irrigate the vegetable bed and orchard. We will be purchasing a 3000 gallon water tank shortly to install by the workshop that we roofed with metal last summer. Once we add gutters to the shop it will collect the rain and a drip system will run from the tank to both garden areas. My past gardens have always suffered mid-summer as I become more and more stingy with water. I hope a timer system and efficient drip tape will lead to happy and healthy plants, all while using the rainwater that is readily available to us throughout a West Coast spring!

To finish up this update with a touch more Thread Theory news: Our next pattern is inching closer and closer to the test sewing stage. Now that the initial sample is sewn, instructions are written and all design details are finalized, it is currently being graded. Next, Matt will format the PDF pattern while I get started on illustrations. I think I will leave the bulk of the illustrations until after I receive the test sewer feedback. We did this for the first time with our Qualicum Bag pattern and it worked very well. Since test sewers only had my written instructions to go by (no images), it really put the clarity of my writing to the test. It was also easier to change construction order and methods as per the tester feedback because I did not have to redo all of the diagrams to reflect the changes.

Anyways, thank you, once again, for the unexpected support and encouragement that you gave me through the survey. You’ve shown me how to embrace this phase of life that I am in and have made it clear that changes of pace and lifestyle should be embraced rather than resisted. I’ll be back with another post when the giveaway winner is announced on February 15th! In the meantime, head here to enter the giveaway, and head here to complete the survey.

 


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Future of Thread Theory – please take our survey

[Edited Jan 31st to add: I neglected to add a contact info form to the survey so I’ve changed the $50 gift card draw into a general giveaway. To enter, comment on today’s blog post. Thank you for the overwhelming response to our survey! I’m just thrilled with your thoughtful answers!]

For years now I’ve received requests to design ‘menswear inspired’ women’s patterns, women’s workwear patterns and boys/teen patterns. These ideas all intrigue me greatly but I’ve more or less refrained as I wanted to make sure that justice was done to our primary focus of menswear first. Sewists have been waiting too long for contemporary menswear pattern designs so I’m glad that we’ve filled that niche with a good solid base of West Coast casual garments!

The very first photo we ever took of a Thread Theory Design! Taken in early spring, 2013.

Now that we have 14 menswear garment patterns in our shop that we are very proud of in addition to two special release women’s designs (launched on past Thread Theory anniversaries to thank our predominantly female customer base), and two gender neutral accessory patterns, I feel ready to consider branching out. After all, we have stayed on a fairly focused trajectory since we first registered our business in Dec. 2012 – we had only one burning dream: Make it possible for sewists to make the same sort of menswear they would buy from a shop!

Our website as a newborn when it first launched in 2013.

At first we focused completely on designing our own patterns, we then started carrying kits and tools to make menswear projects more enjoyable to sew. We next forayed into menswear fabrics for a couple of years. We then scaled back on tools and cut out fabric completely (our new homestead doesn’t have the studio space necessary for fabric sales and I don’t have the toddler-free time necessary for frequent product photoshoots!) and shifted our focus back to patterns – this time adding many other amazing indie menswear designers to our shop. While I’ve greatly enjoyed this menswear focused journey, it’s just really starting to feel time to refresh. I don’t know what that will mean yet but perhaps you do!

I am just about to begin the design process for a new batch of patterns – I tend to design in batches of 4 – so I thought this could be a neat opportunity to hear from you on the matter! Should I make this next batch all menswear? Should I shift my focus elsewhere? Or perhaps the next batch should be a bit of menswear and a bit of something else? Tell me your opinion using our very short survey. It’ll probably take all of 5 minutes and will give you a chance to win a $50 CAD gift certificate to our shop! The draw for the gift certificate will take place February 15th.

Fill out the survey now >


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Orange Leaves, Orange Pumpkins, Orange-haired Baby

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As it turns out, Fall is an excellent season for our new property. Our land is covered in many maple trees and the decorative plantings around our house feature showy decidous trees as well. Once the weather cooled and the leaves turned, even the rainiest of days was made brighter by the Fall display.

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The fire pit has really come into its own in the last couple of months. Matt had a lovely fire going all afternoon and evening when we hosted a big family Thanksgiving potluck several weekends ago.

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I was thrilled that everyone managed to make themselves comfortable around the fire on all manner of scavenged dining chairs and stumps. We brought out the appetizers and drinks and people passed a lovely couple of hours before dinner enjoying the warmth from both the fire and the October sunshine.

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Noah turned one this October (already!?) so the Thanksgiving feast also served as a bit of a birthday party for him and the other October babies in the family. As a birthday gift, my sister and her partner spent some time setting up a classic tire swing and she took this gorgeous photo of him enjoying it.

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Our chickens are fully grown now but, unfortunately, six of the eight turned out to be roosters. As a result, four of the roosters are now in the freezer which was a tough introduction to homesteading but necessary for the health and happiness of the two little hens. Now that the days are so short, I don’t think the hens will be inclined to lay their first eggs until the spring.

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Next year I hope to either buy two more hens or perhaps let one of our hens hatch her own eggs if she goes broody in the spring. Matt and I have to decide whether we are willing to face culling more roosters should the hatched chicks turn out to be male…at this point it seems that it would be more enjoyable to find some grown hens but I worry they won’t integrate happily with an existing flock. Does anyone have experience with integrating mature hens? I’d love some tips!

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As the weather becomes wetter and colder I am trying to keep a routine in place that has Noah playing and me working on the property daily. His new rain suit really helps with this but I think the biggest factor that will allow me to prep garden beds this winter will be his ability to walk.  I expect he’ll be walking (and running!) very soon! Right now he loves to walk outside while holding my hands but, understandably, is not interested in crawling around and exploring on his own like he does when indoors. The ground is wet and cold on his hands (and he whips gloves off within seconds of me wrestling them onto him). Once he’s walking he’ll have more independence and we can both play and work in the same area of the property. Am I way too optimistic in imagining this? Maybe I’ll just be busy chasing him at that point!

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As winter approaches we are fine tuning the operation of our big wood furnace and are thrilled that it can heat the house overnight. It is very cosy! We will be having an arborist over to fall a dead tree near the workshop. When he’s here I’ll ask him to limb a couple of the big cedar trees to give the trees below them a bit of space. I look forward to decorating the porch with boughs! I think the house will look so pretty bedecked with cedar in the snow!

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As per usual, I’ll finish this seasonal homestead update with a bit of Thread Theory news. We have a pattern launching soon (VERY soon!)! It really is any day now! Be the first to know and receive the special launch day discount by signing up for our newsletter.

I will be working on the next pattern instructions over the winter. The pattern is already mostly finished! I hope to launch this next one in early Spring 2020.

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Well, that’s it for now! Happy Halloween everyone! I hope yesterday included and perhaps this weekend includes pumpkins, Fall leaves and fireworks!


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Summer Days around the “Farm”

I wonder when I will feel comfortable calling our property a farm without giggling or adding quotations…One day I would love to refer to it as our homestead or farm without feeling like we are playing house but we aren’t there yet! In the meantime, playing house is a lot of fun!

July has brought us one step closer to my schemes and dreams of a bustling homestead though – our chickens have graduated from their brooder in our bathroom to free ranging and coop life! They are very obviously pleased with their new home, I was quite surprised by how obvious their happiness was when they moved in. They scampered, hopped and flapped their wings joyously the moment they entered the spacious coop and haven’t slowed their playful antics since!

Now that the chickens are running around our property I can’t wait to add more animals! I like listening to their chirps and awkward teenage voices crackling as Noah and I water the garden. So far I adore the routines created by caring for them. They won’t be laying until the Fall but just letting them in and out of the coop and checking their water is a very grounding and peaceful routine already. I wonder if I’ll feel the same way on cold and wet winter mornings? I think so…but you never know! Next spring we hope to add goats or a pig to our menagerie but I’ll try my best to hold off until then so that we can get used to raising chickens first and make sure we enjoy all aspects.

Aside from fixing up our coop for the chickens and enjoying their antics, July has been a busy month of visitors both two and four legged. It would seem our spacious property has resulted in us becoming the official dog-sitters for my family now, and our pup, Luki is quite pleased about that.

We’ve looked after my sister’s sweet dog (Luki’s one true love ) several times this June and July and now we are looking after my parent’s dog while they travel around Ireland for a month. Noah squeals with delight each time one of our visitors heads in his direction. He loves dogs!

We’ve also had quite a few overnight visits from Noah’s grandparents. Matt’s mom and dad keep spoiling us by bringing dinner ingredients and cooking for us which is such a treat!

We had a lovely time with my great aunts who came all the way from England. They cheered Noah on as he spent his first morning playing on the beach in the sand and grinning like mad as he went down the slide.

As you can see in the photo above, Noah was so comfortable and relaxed with his Great Great Auntie Edina!

I look forward to they day when our property will be a little more polished and set up for weekend visitors. I have dreams of running a small guest house and farm stand one day, but in the meantime, family and friends have been enjoying the fire pit that Matt and my sister built and our picnic table.

One day a flower garden, lounging area and a pond will add to our guest’s comfort. I love daydreaming about big landscaping plans as an occasional restful treat while Noah naps.

Right now guests just expect that relaxing will wait for later and seem glad to be put to work on whatever project we are currently focussed on!

Each visit my mom and dad arrive just fit to burst with excitement and energy to tackle the next big project. My Dad worked so hard in the scorching sun earlier this month to replace the workshop roof with Matt.

My garden, as I mentioned last homestead update, isn’t especially productive, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so since we had little to no time to prep beds when we moved in the spring.

I’ve laid out huge tarps in the main field and hope, once they’ve solarized (used the heat of the sun to kill the grass and weeds), I can lift them and plant a cover crop this Fall. In the spring I can turn the cover crop under with the help of the chickens and a tiller so that it will be ready for my first big vegetable garden. Once we have a pig and goats, I think they’ll be able to replace the work of the tiller each spring. I’m new to gardening out of raised beds though, so please give me your two cents if you have experience with a big victory garden style veggie plot!

Our computer broke earlier this week which just about had me selling Thread Theory (I’m joking but only just) because we thought we lost the only file that wasn’t backed up: The nearly completed instructions and pattern for our upcoming bag pattern release! When the computer died it seemed upon first inspection that our dual hard drives had not been backing files up as intended…well, two very long days of tinkering later, Matt saved Thread Theory and my sanity by not only fixing the computer but also saving the pattern and all of my hard work! So, if all goes well, the pattern will be headed to test sewers by the end of the day or perhaps by the end of the weekend. It’s very close! And, needless to say, Matt has added one more back up system so that this won’t be happening again. Phew…


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The workshop of Wray Parsons

Matt recently went to visit local woodworker, Wray Parsons, and picked up our latest order of beautiful lathe-turned sewing tools.

With our recent move we live even closer to Wray so it seemed like a great opportunity to forgo mailing the order and instead have a tour of his workspace and a chat.

Wray kindly agreed to me sharing photos of his workshop on the blog as I thought you might like to take a peek as well!

It is amazing to see the large size of the tools used to make Wray’s remarkably small and precise wooden tools. In the background of the photo above you can see his lathe used for turning the wood into it’s final shape, below you can see the jointer and planer used to create his blanks (the rectangles of wood ready to be turned).

He also has a bandsaw (below) to process material and cut intricate shapes. Beside the saw you can see an example of one the the burls that he works with.

All of these tools and a lot of skill and time go into making his precisely crafted wooden tools.

He uses a set of specialty chisels imported from England to create the smoothly functioning threads on his acorn thimble case.

His wood storage appeals to me:

His projects are so miniature and his woods is so precious that even the tiniest piece (what most woodworking shops would view as scrap) is carefully stored for a future project.

Wray’s wife has a long history of needle work so he consulted her for his original line of tools and frequently consults the shops who stock his tools when designing a new tools.

He’s also greatly inspired by historical needlework tools, his acorn tape measure (pictured above) and thimble case are modeled after the silver acorn thimble cases found in Victorian sewing boxes. The stem on the acorn twists to roll the tape back up! His soldier’s friends (pictured below) are modeled after wartime sewing kits that soldiers kept handy to mend their uniforms.

Whenever he sources blades, scissors or stuffing to complete his tools, he finds the best quality: His seam ripper blades are very hard and sharp Japanese steel, his thread snips are Italian, and the pin cushions are stuffed with local sheep’s wool to coat your pins in rust preventing lanolin.

Wray also showed Matt the heated greenhouse that he built for himself.

It has a coal fired stove inside the timber and glass structure which allows Wray to grow tomatoes well into the winter.

The raised beds are very substantial and you can see that his heating and watering set up is finely tuned. The greenhouse is so large he even grows fruit trees within it!

What an inspiration for our future greenhouse! We are a long ways off from having something so substantial but I can certainly dream!

Anyhow, back to his woodworking: In our latest order we added some darning mushrooms which we have not stocked for some time. I’m trying to focus on sewing related tools (and used to include these mushrooms in the knitting section of our shop) but they are too beautiful, useful and aligned with the growing movement of mending instead of buying new…they simply make sense to have in one’s sewing kit!

Well, I hope you found this peek at Wray’s workshop and tour of Wray’s tools intriguing! Noah and I plan to pick up our next delivery so I can have a closer look at that garden and greenhouse! Wray kindly sends us photos and updates by email quite often but it will be much nicer to chat in person regularly now we live so close.

View our selection of Wray’s sewing tools.